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 Season 5

Episode 79

(Brent's secret)

Isla offered to drive Autumn back, but her friend declined. Since Brent became her full-time driver, it was convenient for Autumn to go anywhere. More importantly, Brent was becoming more dependable lately, to Autumn's relief.   

  Autumn did accept Isla's help to carry her things for stowing in the trunk. Once everything was in, Autumn called Brent and was puzzled when he wasn't answering. He picked up on the third call, but his voice quivered as he asked, "Mrs. Lu, are we going home now?"    

"Yes, I'm done. Where are you, Brent?" Autumn answered a little impatiently. "I've called you several times, but you didn't answer." She was looking at Isla, her brows furrowed.   

  Brent was almost mumbling as he apologized to Autumn. He paused and explained, "I'm sorry. But I have diarrhea right now. Please wait for me. I'll be right there!" Brent hung up quickly while Autumn stared at her phone feeling weird.   

She couldn't figure out what had happened to Brent. 'Diarrhea? What did he eat?' she thought. Turning to Isla, Autumn said, "I'll wait for Brent here. You can go now."   

 But Isla dismissed the order. "I'm staying right here with you,"  she declared. Isla was not about to leave Autumn alone there. It took Brent more than ten minutes before he finally showed up. She waited until Autumn was safely inside the car before going back.    

 During their drive home, Brent was quiet and ill-at-ease. Autumn chose to be silent. 'He might still be experiencing abdominal pain,' she thought. Brent was lost in thought while waiting for the traffic light to turn green. Even when the light changed, he did not move. The car behind them started honking.     

Autumn called out, "Brent, the light's green!" He still did not react, absorbed in his own thoughts. "Brent!" Autumn raised her voice to call Brent's attention. When he still did not respond, Autumn finally tapped him on the shoulder. He shuddered as he felt Autumn's hand. 

"Mrs. Lu, what happened?" Brent shook himself awake.   

"What's happening to you, Brent? Are you sure you're okay?" she asked with concern. She calmed down before adding, "Didn't you hear the car blowing its horn behind us?"   

 Brent shook his head again. "I am so sorry, Mrs. Lu,"  he apologized. He quickly started the car and drove off.    

 Autumn worried about Brent's strange look all the way home. She said nothing, but Nancy noticed her son's odd behavior as soon as he walked into the house. 

She called him several times but he never even reacted to her presence. Brent went directly to his quarters without greeting his mother.   

Autumn called Nancy's attention. "Brent has been acting abnormally today. Can you please ask him what happened?" she requested the housekeeper.    

 "I will, Mrs. Lu. And thank you for your concern,"  a worried Nancy replied. She looked at Autumn closely and said, "Mrs. Lu, you also have to take good care of yourself and your babies." She bowed her head in humility. "Don't worry about my son and me. Let me apologize again for what I did in the past. I do not wish to cause you any more trouble because I would then be too ashamed to stay on if I did."  

  "Enough of this kind of talk, Nancy. I promise to take care of myself, but I also don't want you to dig up the past ever again, understand? Just let it go,"  Autumn ordered. She gave Nancy a warm smile of assurance.     

Charles had a social event that evening. So Nancy only prepared dinner for Autumn and Gary. Lately, Gary had been so passionate about fishing and often went out with his old friends to fish. He always came home with lots of catch and would ask Nancy to prepare fish soup for Autumn because it was nutritious.   

Proudly, he said, "Autumn, this is the wild crucian I caught today. You need to eat plenty of this. It is said to be good for your health." Gary grinned at the pregnant Autumn. Like everybody else, he was concerned about Autumn's health and well-being.     

"Oh thank you, Grandpa! It's very delicious,"  Autumn said appreciatively. She had two bowls of the broth and felt quite full after. She decided to walk around the garden to help with digestion.     

At around this time, Brent usually came out of his room and would ask Nancy to cook for him.    

 But that evening, he failed to show up even after Autumn and Gary had finished eating. After clearing the table, Nancy decided to look in on him.   

She cooked fried eggs with tomatoes to bring to her son, thinking Brent would be very hungry.    

 Nancy tapped at Brent's bedroom door lightly but got no reply. She hesitated a bit before pushing the door open and walking in.     

Nancy walked into the dark room. Not even a bed light was open. Her heart was pounding as she sought out her son.    

 "Brent, are you there? What is wrong with you?" she called out, her voice breaking. Nancy approached the bed, feeling her way in the dark. "Are you sick? 

Here, let me check you,"  she said anxiously. Nancy groped for the light. When it came on, she found Brent lying on the bed silently, his shirt off. There were several bruises on his torso. Nancy quickly put down the tray she was carrying and sat beside her son. 

"What happened to you?" she cried out in alarm. Nancy nearly choked at the sight of his battered body. "You're hurt! You have so many bruises,"  she said tearfully, afraid to touch them, but wanting to soothe her son. 

"Who did this to you? Were you in a fight?" She fired several questions at Brent. She was sick with worry, at the same time mad because of what they had done to her son.   

Brent groaned in pain. "Mom, just please leave me alone." He hid under the covers. Grumbling, he told Nancy, "I want to rest, Mom. Go away!" Nancy's questions annoyed him and made him more uncomfortable. "I'm not hungry, Mom. I just want to be left alone."   

 But the mother persisted, "Tell me what happened, Brent! Tell me the truth." She looked at her son's bruised body. She towered over him, eyes glistening. Then Nancy asked, "Why did you get into a fight? Answer me!"    

"I didn't start it. And I did not want to fight,"  came Brent's muffled reply. He wanted to moan in pain but tried his best to assure Nancy. "I'm okay Mom. Please stop asking me. I just want to be left alone for a while,"  he pleaded.   

His mother stood firm. "I am not leaving until you tell me what happened." She bent over to inspect the bruises and scratches on his chest and back. 

Looking at the injuries, she had no doubt Brent was beaten up. "Tell me the truth. Did you go out with those unsavory characters again?"   

 "Mom, I told you I didn't! Why do you keep asking?" He was whining now. 

Since Nancy would not stop, Brent suddenly roared. Briefly, he felt guilty and asserted, "They came looking for me today. They wanted me to go back to gamble with them, but I refused. That's why they turned violent. Are you satisfied now?"    

His answer shocked Nancy. She was speechless for several minutes and became even more anxious. Finally, she said, "Really?" Nancy was terribly upset about what happened to Brent. One part of her was relieved that Brent refused to return to gambling. But she was also furious after seeing the bruises he sustained for his refusal. Nancy inhaled deeply to let go of the fury. Her voice was shaking when she uttered, "Those people are bastards. Someday, I hope they will be punished." She stood, patted Brent gently and said that she needed to get the ointment for his bruises. Nancy could not stop the tears from falling as she was about to go out.  

Brent tried to stop his mother. "Mom, I'm fine. I don't need any ointment." He sat up and faced his mother calmly. "I'm fine, so stop worrying. It will heal,"  he assured Nancy.     

"But you're in pain,"  Nancy argued. She felt her heart was broken at the sight of Brent's injuries. Nancy could not help but worry about his condition. "The ointment would hasten the healing of your bruises." Nancy paused, and advised, "Brent, always remember to avoid those thugs in the future."    

She muttered fiercely, "They will get the punishment they deserve sooner or later." Brent nodded before looking at his mother to plead. "Mom, please don't tell Mr. and Mrs. Lu about this,"  he asked.  

 "Why not?" His request surprised her. Nancy had no plans to tell the couple what happened to Brent, but she was taken aback by Brent's appeal. She looked inquiringly at her son, waiting for an explanation.   

  "Nothing. They have so many things to think about already, so we shouldn't bother them with this. They've been very helpful to us, so we should be more considerate. Mr. Lu is very busy at work, and Mrs. Lu is pregnant now,"  he told his mother. Nancy was relieved after listening to Brent's explanation. Her son was finally becoming more mature and it made her proud.    

 "All right, I won't mention this to them,"  she promised. Looking at Brent, she said, "It's late, and you must be hungry already. Get up and eat. We'll talk more about this later after you finish eating."

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